Chimney Bluffs State Park: Western New York is a geologic wonderland, home to many unique features, including one of the largest groups of drumlins you’ll find anywhere on the planet. While the term makes them sound like creatures from a sci-fi movie, drumlins are actually chimney-like, elliptical hills made of either solid rock or pile-to-pile piles of rubble left behind by ice age glaciers. Over time, wind and water erosion have turned them into pointed crests.
To see some of the best, most photogenic examples of drumlins, visit the 597-acre Chimney Bluffs State Park (website) in downtown Wolcott. These spiky, pinkish spots up to 150 feet high on the shores of Lake Ontario look otherworldly, like sandcastles built by giant babies from another galaxy.
When you visit Chimney Bluffs State Park, you’ll have the opportunity to appreciate this Star Wars-like landscape from different angles. In this guide, you’ll find insight and advice to help you plan for outdoor fun in a remarkable setting and make the most of your trip.
Things to Do
Heading out on a hike to gawk at the drumlins is, to be honest, the primary thing to do in Chimney Bluffs State Park. You can see these huge, pointed cliffs from above or below, depending on which route you take.
While swimming is prohibited, fishing is permitted with the appropriate license. You can also go kayaking or paddleboarding and watch the wind and water drumlins outside on Lake Ontario. Look for a dirt path near the parking area on East Bay Road that leads to the water. Don’t have your own pedaling gear? Kayak Time Guided Tours offers a five- to six-hour tour from Chimney Bluffs State Park. These trips include rental gear and are for intermediate-level kayakers.
Even if you’re not up for much physical activity, Chimney Bluffs State Park is a lovely place to picnic: grills are available in the picnic area at the end of the Short Meadow Trail. While you’re in Wolcott, you may also want to swing by Wolcott Falls Park, located 8.4 miles from the state park. Here, the upper viewing area for the 50-foot waterfall is steps away from the parking area.
Best Hikes & Trails
There are five primary trails in the park, all of which are manageable distances. As you’ll see when you look at the trail map, it’s easy to design your own hiking loop using many of these trails.
- Bluff Trail: This 1.29-mile, red-blazed trail is rated as moderate and travels along with a view of Lake Ontario. Pay attention to signs and stay off the edge of the cliff (remember that statistic: selfies kill more people than sharks). At the far eastern end, you can descend more than 200 steps to the rocky lakeshore. You can also park here and start your climb with a climb.
- Drumlin Trail: The blue-bladed, 0.73-mile Drumlin Trail begins at Garner Road and is a fairly easy walk to the top of the bluffs. It ends at the Bluff Trail and intersects the yellow-gloved, 1.03-mile East-West Trail.
- Garner Point Trail: Orange Blaze marks the 0.75-mile Garner Point Trail, which takes you to a beautiful lake view.
- Meadow Trail: At only 0.21 miles, the brown-bladed Meadow Trail leads from the park’s main parking area to join the East-West Trail and the west end of the Bluff Trail.
Chimney Bluffs State Park is open year-round, and it can look even more dramatic when the drumlins are sprinkled with powdered-sugar snow and the lake below is surrounded by ice formations. In the wintertime, the park’s trails become the domain of cross-country skiers, snowshoers, and snowmobilers.
Chimney Bluffs state park camping
There is no campground at Chimney Bluffs State Park, but there are several camping options nearby, including:
- Lake Bluff Campground: A family-friendly campground on the shores of Lake Ontario, located just a five-minute drive from Chimney Bluffs. Here, you’ll find both full-service camping and rental cabins, as well as amenities such as a convenience store, roadside farm stand, heated swimming pool, miniature golf course, fishing pond, and outdoor sports for all ages.
- Cherry Grove Campground: An RV destination with full hookups that can accommodate even larger rigs. You’ll also find camping cabins for rent if you sort of “rough it” if you’re rig-less and tent sites. Kids love the swimming pool, playground, jump pillows, miniature golf course, and recreation room, and there are also grounds and courts for teens and adults to play.
- Port Bay RV Park and Campground: A destination for RVers, tent campers, and even non-campers who want to rent wooden log cabins. Located a 21-minute drive east of Chimney Bluffs State Park, its amenities include a library and exercise room and often have themed social events.
- Camp Beachwood: Located in an abandoned former Girl Scout camp 20 minutes from downtown Sodas, this 288-acre property in Beachwood State Park is open to campers at no charge: Just be sure to follow the rules, including the groundkeeper ahead of you Calling is included. live. You can use existing structures within the park, such as tent shelters and fire pits, but you will mostly need to carry in your gear.
Where to Stay Nearby
This area of New York State is an outdoor lover’s paradise, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find plenty of creature comforts in hotels and inns. Consider booking a stay at any of these:
- Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast: A homey, historic inn just steps from Lake Ontario in Sodas Point, NY. This 1870 Victorian inn welcomes guests year-round; A full breakfast is included. Chimney Bluffs is a picturesque location a 20-minute drive away.
- Pleasant Beach Hotel: A multifunctional property with its own marina and restaurant, located a 24-minute drive east of the state park. Established in 1910, this waterside retreat features nine uniquely decorated rooms and a casual, casual vibe that allows the view to steal the show.
- Black Creek Farm Bed & Breakfast: A rustic-chic farmhouse inn located about 21 minutes east of Chimney Bluffs State Park in downtown Red Creek. Choose from four guest rooms, and enjoy the front porch and common areas within this 1888 homestay property.
How to Get There
Chimney Bluffs State Park is not in an area that is served by public transportation. You’ll want a car, and rentals are readily available at the two nearest Upstate New York airports: Greater Rochester International Airport and Syracuse Hancock International Airport. Most visitors come by their own vehicles. The primary entrance to the park is at 7700 Garner Road in Wolcott, New York. You can find parking and restroom facilities at the end of East Bay Road on the eastern side of the park.
Due to its delicate natural landscape features, Chimney Bluffs State Park does not rate high in terms of accessibility. However, there is a small view of the drumlins from the paved parking lot, accessed through the main Garner Road entrance. From there, you can take the paved, wheelchair-accessible Meadow Trail to a picnic area by the lake. Restrooms in the park are ADA compliant.
Tips for Your Visit
- There is a $5 per vehicle entry fee collected from April to October.
- The park is open year-round, from dawn to dusk.
- Your adventure can include a maximum of two dogs, but they should be kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet, and you should be prepared to show proof of current rabies vaccinations.
- Some deer and small game hunting are permitted in the park. While security zones and restricted areas have been deployed throughout the park to protect visitors, hikers (dogs too!) should wear Blaze Orange during hunting season, especially if they plan to venture off marked trails.
- Chimney Bluffs is a popular spot for photography, including portraits. Morning light is best for taking photos of people and pets, and in the fall, pops of autumn color enhance the images you can capture here. Much of this lakeside park faces west, so you can catch nice sunsets here too. Even if you’re not taking pictures, try staying at Chimney Bluffs to watch the sun splash colors in the water as it appears to sink into Lake Ontario.